Do you ever have difficulty relating to the older adults residing within your community? Do you want to recruit more of this demographic, but have trouble finding them? There are around 46 million adults aged 60+ living in the United States. When recruiting potential residents and relating to current residents, you must know with whom you are talking and how best to communicate. As with any relationship, it is important to foster a feeling of mutual respect and care, and step one is to truly get to know your audience.
Older adults are wise, practiced, and intelligent. Your residents and potential residents will likely belong to either the “Silent Generation,” or the “Baby Boomer” generation. They were most likely born between 1924 and 1964 and have seen an immense amount of change in their lifetimes, from social changes to the rise of technology. You are guaranteed to learn something valuable from your residents when you take the time to connect with them.
Below are some tips on how to do just that.
Call a grandparent or acquaintance. When was the last time you had a conversation with your grandmother or grandfather? According to the Pew Research Center, 22% of American adults speak with a grandparent weekly! Take advantage of your grandmother’s library of knowledge; pick your grandfather’s brain. You are certain to learn more about the world around us and your grandparents will love hearing from you. Not only will you learn a great deal by talking to older adults, you will help to keep their long-term memory intact by recalling events from their younger years. Simply by having a conversation with an individual 70+, you will gain inherent knowledge on how to communicate, what to talk about, and where to take the conversation with your next potential resident.
Do your research. Open a book or utilize the Internet to research older adults’ hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. Try to find something you have in common with a potential resident and capitalize on it. Any common points of interest are fantastic talking points and will help you down the road when reaching out to leads.
Read 20th-century literature. Our oldest generation is very well read. There was no Facebook in 1953 to quell the ache of boredom. They read. A lot. Take a page out of their book (pun intended) and read books such as The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, or Brave New World. Not only are these amazing reads, but it will be fun for both parties to chat about these American classics.
Spend time with your current residents. When you get a moment of down time, it is important to spend time with older adults already residing within your community. This is essential for two reasons. First, fostering relationships with current residents will increase your overall job satisfaction as well as increase their overall life satisfaction. There is nothing better than making others smile. Second, chatting with current residents will make it easier to chat with potential residents and their families. Do a puzzle, play a game of chess, talk politics, go to lunch. Get them talking, ogle at pictures of their grandchildren, show them photos of your new puppy or of your niece at prom. Older adults love life – show it to them.
The most important thing to remember is the older adult demographic is not so different from you and me. They have years of stories, life experience and wisdom. Sit down for a chat or pick up the phone. Get to talking and make a connection.